By Rick Munroe
It doesn’t take someone long to figure out that people living in the Delta region are a diverse and proud group, and as a recent transplant from the Hoosier state I can see why. Notwithstanding the mosquito population, the Delta is rich in natural resources, cultural diversity, art, education, and generosity all which led me to where I am today—Cleveland, Mississippi. My wife and I are sure that Cleveland is not like any place we’ve ever been and are blessed to be a part of the community.
As the newest member of the administration at Delta State University, I am overwhelmed by the unbelievable swiftness that my colleagues, staff and community members embraced me as one of their own. I am not new to the south as I lived in Georgia for twelve years, so I didn’t come to Mississippi blinded by stereotypes or ignorance. I was told by locals that the Delta is different. I am not sure what they mean by that, but the longer I am here the more I understand it. I tell my friends and family back home that they should come visit us and discover the Delta difference, a phrase that piques their interest and curiosity in what we have gotten ourselves into.
Not all is rosy and bliss here as anyone could see, but to look beyond the obvious economic struggles or political climate you will see lives being changed. In my role at Delta State University I see students achieving lifelong dreams of education, many of which like myself are first-generation college graduates. I have spoken to alumni that left the Delta to pursue big dreams only to miss the honest, hard-working, straight-talking people of their youth, thus decide to return and share their experiences with the newest generation of Delta State University students. I believe the measure of an area’s impact on someone’s life can be seen in the numerous tales of these expatriates returning to make a difference in the lives of others for no other reason than someone did it for them. They also want to provide opportunities for others. Perhaps one of the best examples of this is William LaForge, president of Delta State University. He is leading the tremendous growth and change on campus for the benefit of generations to come.
In my search for a new home in the south, I hoped to find a place where my wife and I could make a difference in the lives of others as well as have our lives inspired by the community we serve. We are very happy with the decision to begin this new chapter of our lives here and look forward to getting to know more about the Delta region as we have an opportunity to talk to alumni, students, and local residents. Perhaps we will be like many others that came here from somewhere else but decided to stay. I am beginning to see that the Delta difference is not in the place, but the people and that is truly what life should be about. DBJ
Rick Munroe is the Vice President for University Advancement and External Relations at Delta State Univeristy.